15 March 2005

Secretary-General Pays Respects to Slain Staff of Palestine Relief Agency, Bids Farewell to Peter Hansen

(Reissued as received.)

JERUSALEM, 14 March (UNRWA) -- The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, paid a visit to the West Bank operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) today to lay a wreath at the memorial to UNRWA staff who have lost their lives in the duty of the United Nations and to publicly bid farewell to Peter Hansen, UNRWA’s outgoing Commissioner-General.

Mr. Annan, accompanied by his wife, laid a wreath at the monument to Kamal Salem and Iain Hook who were both killed in separate incidents in the West Bank in 2002 while on duty for UNRWA.

The Secretary-General then addressed a large group of UNRWA staff to express his profound respect for the courage and devotion they bring to their jobs in very difficult and sometimes dangerous situations.  Mr. Annan then took questions from UNRWA’s staff.

Mr. Annan also thanked Peter Hansen for the nine years of service he has given to the Agency.  In a recent letter to all UNRWA staff the Secretary-General described the Commissioner-General as “not only a careful and efficient manager, but also an inspiring leader, a persuasive advocate and a consummate diplomat with acute political antennae”.

Mr. Annan’s letter said:  “No one could have been more wholeheartedly devoted to the interests of the Palestine refugees, or more courageous in championing them, particularly during the last four years of renewed conflict and tragic violence.  He has made many friends, and he has had the courage also to make some enemies.”

Mr. Hansen then accompanied the Secretary-General, along with other heads of United Nations agencies in the region, to visits with the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Annan visited the Ramallah Women’s Training Centre (RWTC), a college run by UNRWA since the 1960s to give training and career opportunities to female refugees.  The Secretary-General’s wife met and spoke with students at the college’s graphic design unit and those studying nursing, ceramics, jewellery-making and pre-school teacher training.

At the college, Mrs. Annan had lunch with Karen Koning Abu-Zayd, Deputy Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Anders Fange UNRWA’s Director of Operations in the West Bank, Tim Rothermel, UNDP Resident Representative, Dan Rohrman, UNICEF Representative and Principal Jirbawi of the RWTC.

Public Information Office, UNRWA-HQ (GAZA), Web site:

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